[Series] Hack ALA: Annual Party!

13/06/2012 § 1 Comment

Today we’ve got a special guest post from JP Porcaro with lots of advice and fun events to check out this year at ALA. He’s a 2012 Mover and Shaker, head guy at 8-bit library, and tweets at @8bitlibrary.

Hey hacklibschool team, JP here (you know, #partyhard #makeithappen guy). If there’s one regret I have from when I was in library school, it’s not getting involved in the ALA immediately. There’s no larger library community in the USA! My advice to everyone: if there’s one conference you attend every year (besides your state association conference), it should be ALA.

The reason ALA Annual is such an important event is because you get to meet people. Real , flesh-and-blood people. You meet them, build relationships with them, and party hard with them.

It’s not so hard to find new people to meet, because it’s such a gigantic conference,  but there’s some events I am especially excited about that I’d love for you to attend! Add these all to your conference scheduler (and if you aren’t coming to the conference, there’s still time! in fact, I haven’t even booked my flight yet).

Almost every link is direct to the conference scheduler, so you can use this post to build your conference schedule via ALA Connect. Shouts to Jenny Levine, just in general, but also for the conference scheduler.


7pm: ALA Think Tank kicks it off right with the ALA Think Tank Tiki Party. If you don’t know about ALA Think Tank, now you know.


9am: Annual 2012 Unconference is always worth waking up for. You meet fabulous people from across the country, from all different types of libraries, with various world experiences and skill sets, and share ideas with them.

3pm: Emerging Leaders Poster Session and Reception is the best mix of the old-school of the ALA & the new-school of us young folks. Everybody gets along, trades business cards, chats…it’s one of the BEST events at ALA that is presented sans-alcohol.

7:30pm: ALAplay is the most fun event at Annual every year. It’s the most relaxed event for sure, and brings together folks from lots of different committees, divisions, etc. Also, there’s cosplay at it, which is a spectacle for those of us not dressed up. I did don a red wig for it last year which was killer. :)

10pm: ALA Dance Party III is the premier party at ALA and needs no introduction. Last year it was one of the top-twenty highest-attended events according to the conference scheduler!


10:30am: Games and Gaming Forum (GameRT). The reason I put this is because GameRT is the ALA’s newest round table and this is their first event as an official organization. Get involved with it as it rises from the ground-up. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that games are fun.

5pm: Happy Hour (RUSA MARS) has the word “happy hour” in it. Happy is good.

7:30pm: 6th ALA Annual 2012 Newbie & Veteran Librarian Tweet-up is just a laid-back great time to meet librarians who you might know digitally but not personally. I’ve attended every tweetup and have great memories of all of them.

10pm: #ala12 After Hours / LibrarianWardrobe Walkoff Contest! Other than Dance Party, this is THE social event to attend for 6 years running (maybe more?). With the additional fun of librarianwardrobe.com/ running their fashion show walkoff contest, it looks to be the best after-hours event yet.


5:30pm: LITA Happy Hour has moved to Sunday night, and I’m very pleased about that, because it is  one of the events that you’ll see MOST of the twitter people at all in the same place! I am particularly thrilled that it’s moved so it doesn’t interfere with ALAPlay! No conflicts, double fun.

6:30pm: Student Reception (NMRT) is also Sunday night, so if you wanna do a “networking pub crawl”, add this to the list.

7pm: Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup ;)


2:45pm: Librarian Wardrobe #ala12 Conversation Starter Session. Style and Stereotypes: Perceptions of Librarians – join a panel + discussion on style and stereotypes of librarians, perceptions inside and outside of the field.

5:30pm: Battledecks 2012! If you kick-off the conference with Think Tank, end it here! Another fun fun fun event that needs to be seen to be believed. I competed 2 years ago (won the bronze medal!), judged last year, and this year just wanna chill with all my hacklibschool ppl. Let’s #makeTHAThappen! And i’m sure we’ll all find some informal locations to share our library stories with after.


Recover. Sleep on your flight. Or find me & PC Sweeney and we’ll drink some mimosas before heading back to our libraries.

One last thing, Mango Languages always throws a killer party, and this year it’s at a bowling alley. You need an invite, though, so hit them up at their booth in the exhibit hall for the pass to the party!

LIBRARIANS ASSEMBLE, #partyhard, #makeithappen.


To make things a lot easier, here is the ALA Annual #partyhard map. Use it well.

[Series] Hack ALA: Professional Preparations

12/06/2012 § 19 Comments

Calico cat laying in my briefcase

by Michael Beck under CC license via Flickr.

Editor’s Note: This follows in a series of posts in our annual Hack ALA Week dedicated to all things conference-y and professional. As students, it’s important to get your feet wet in the LIS professional world early, and as often as your budget allows. While these posts are ALA Annual-themed, much of the advice can be applied to other professional networking situations.

It’s time to get yourself ready to attend ALA or whatever other conference or professional networking event you have on the books for this summer.

Sometimes preparations before the event take as much time and are just as important as attending itself. You can review some of our previous posts about what to wear, attending without attending, and conference planning for some great general tips and information for surviving a conference —  and we probably don’t need to tell you to plan your sessions early so you have ample time to research presenters or sessions you definitely want to see.

Conferences are not only about taking in new new information, they are an invaluable networking space. Here are some prepatory hacks with an eye on networking and professional development to get you ready to confidently hit the conference floor.

Business Cards

There was a twitter discussion which thoughtfully included HLS recently about business cards and the result was yes, they are still valuable and desirable to have. You don’t want to be that guy/girl littering every hand with a business card but you do want to have them at the ready. It isn’t too late to get some printed for ALA and they don’t have to be expensive. You can even get blanks at your local office supply store to print at home.

Dave Delaney has some good quick tips for a better biz card; I particularly liked his ideas to have whitespace for the receiver to make their own notes and possibly include a picture. As a student, you probably want to include your institution name, degree sought and expected graduation date. At the least they should look professional and have your current contact information.

Update Everything

Speaking of contact points, have you updated your professional documents and public profiles recently? Hopefully you will be making lots of new contacts and connections and you don’t want to send them to an outdated website with an old resume. Now is the time to polish, proofread (again) and prep your professional accoutrement including your…

  • Resume
  • Cover letter
  • List of references and recommendation letters
  • A drafted follow-up contact email (“Hello XYZ, It was so great to speak with you at ALA…)
  • ePortfolio (you do have an eportfolio right?)
  • Professional website
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Twitter Account (including your avatar and bio)

It also might be the time to scrub your Facebook or other social media sites of anything that might raise eyebrows to a potential employer or peer — the former will almost certainly check and it is best to know how you appear to the outside world.

Start the conversation early

Twitter is a powerful tool before and during conferences. Follow #ala12, @alaannual and of course @hacklibschool for all the latest updates (if you don’t have a Twitter account you should strongly consider getting one but you can also access in any web browser). Also, never underestimate a conference buddy! Post in your school’s Facebook group or ListServe, and talk about attending in class to find out who else might be going. You shouldn’t only spend time with those you know but it helps to walk into a room with one familiar face, for information sharing and you can also divide and conquer conflicting sessions.

While you are on LinkedIn updating your profile with your most recent experience, have you joined the ALA group? They sent out some great information this past week specifically for job seekers.Did you know you can get a “Librarian for Hire!” ribbon at the JobLIST Placement Center to put on your badge? And – shout out to Anaheim locals! – there are free resources if you are attending the conference or not. ALA also has its own resource of professional networking hacks for new librarians also for non-attendees and attendees alike. If you are going, make sure to get yourself ready to check out the exhibitors hall and the Networking Uncommons.

Keep calm with your carry on?

Finally, what will you pack and what will you pack it in? While a suit is likely overkill for a conference, you should be thinking about what you plan to wear. Will you depend on the likely conference bag giveaway or do you need to bring/buy a suitable conveyance for your stuff? Will you use a notebook, laptop, iPad, Phone etc for note taking? It is good to start thinking though these logistics so packing is a breeze and you have what you need when you arrive (don’t forget pens!).

Hopefully the hacks herein are good notes and reminders for all of us to get our professional lives in order — you never know who you are going to meet so best always to be prepared! Tune in for the rest of the week as we tackle more on ALA12 and beyond.

Did I miss anything? Something unneeded or unclear? Let us hear about it in the comments!

PS – if you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out our recommended sessions and events for ALA12. Also of important note: You should definitely come by and say hi at the Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup on Sunday evening and our Conversation Starter is June 23rd — you can still add your voice/question here even if you wont be attending. 

[Series] Hack ALA: Our Recommended Sessions

11/06/2012 § 1 Comment

Editor’s Note: We are happy to kick off our second annual Hack ALA week! We’ll be dedicating posts this week to all things conference-y and professional. As students, it’s important to get your feet wet in the LIS professional world early, and as often as your budget allows. While these posts are ALA-themed, much of the advice can be applied to other professional networking situations.
These are just some sessions that we think are orientated towards library school students. We also encourage you to independently explore sessions that you are interested in. Also be sure to check out the exhibitors hall and the Networking Uncommons while you’re at the conference.

HLS Stuff

Conversation Starters: Hacking Library School

When: Saturday, June 23, 2012 – 10:30 am- 11:15am

This conversation starter seeks to bring together students and professionals to talk about issues pertaining to our education and our field. It will be a moderated conversation with guiding questions such as: What aspects of library school curriculum prepare you for the job? What emerging technologies enrich your education? How do you “hack” library school? Hack Library School is about being the change that you want to see. What would you change? We hope to see you there!

Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup

When: Sunday, June 24, 2012 – 7:00pm-9:00pm

Come meet the #makeithappen crowd at the joint Hacklibschool / Library Boing Boing Meetup at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon (1025 E. Ball Rd.,www.theranch.com) on Sunday evening. We’ll be waiting for you in the Saloon.

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HackLibSchool Conversation Starter

06/06/2012 § 3 Comments

I am pleased to say that HackLibSchool will be holding two events at this years ALA Annual conference. Awhile back, I wrote about trying to bring HLS and the issues we care about to the conference level. Well, I’m happy to say that our Conversation Starter was accepted! To be honest, this is the first year that they have done the Conversation Starter series, so I’m not sure what to expect. However, our session is intended to be a moderated discussion – not like a traditional panelists just talk at you presentation. We want your input on what topics you want to discuss.

Potential guiding questions:

  • What aspects of library school curriculum prepare you for the job?
  • What emerging technologies helped you hack your education?
  • From a student’s perspective, what advice would you give to a veteran? or a potential boss?
  • What would you tell yourself going into library school, knowing what you know now?
  • Should every student be required to take at least one online class? Why?

Please add more potential questions in the comments! We want to talk about things that are relevant to you! Also, we only have 45 minutes to talk so I would like to invite everyone to come meet and talk with the Hackers at the HackLibSchool/ Library Boing Boing meetup! It’s going to be fun, and hope to see you there!

Presenting at Conferences while in Library School

21/05/2012 § 27 Comments

There have been some terrific posts about conferences on HackLibSchool in the past: Chris recently wrote about unconferences and Joanna wrote a post earlier this year encouraging students to attend conferences as a library student. Today I want to take these posts a step further and encourage other future librarians and information professionals to not only attend but also present at conferences while in library school. I concluded my spring semester with a panel presentation at a state conference (Society of Indiana Archivists) and a poster presentation at a national conference (LOEX), where I had such great experiences that I want to encourage other library school students to take the plunge and do the same.

To reiterate some of the reasons Joanna mentioned in her post, attending conferences is a valuable part of your library school years because of the networking opportunities, educational takeaways, and considerably lower student registration costs. When you present at a conference you get all of the same benefits of attending while also gaining valuable experience for your resume/CV. After presenting at a conference, you will have documented evidence of contributing to the profession (a great way to prepare for those job postings that say “demonstrated commitment to professional development” preferred/required!). It also shows that you are comfortable with public speaking, which I guarantee will make you stand out on the job hunt.

There are multiple types of presentations at conferences (poster, panel, and paper) and conference sizes (local, regional, state, and national). They each have their own culture and provide different opportunities for student presenters. Poster presentations are usually the format students are encouraged to take up at larger conferences (a pretty low-pressure introduction to conference participation), whereas smaller conferences will likely accept paper sessions from students and working professionals.

So, why don’t all library school students present at conferences? I’ve determined a few main barriers to conference participation and thought I’d offer up my tips on overcoming them.

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